It’s the typical feeling I get when the paycheck hits my account - here we go. And while I consider myself to make a decent pay, especially for the work I do, I always find that I’m still anxious about how much will be left over when all the bills are paid. This feeling is multiplied on the weeks the kids will be with us. We enjoy doing things with the kids and the grocery bill is generally more, so I would have a day to day feeling of stress on whether we we’re going to be able to “make it happen” and still last until the following payday.
Typically we always make it all work out but the bottom line is the constant feeling that we may not. And just a week or so ago I have officially decided I hate this feeling!
I didn’t come from a financially responsible background. I always remembered my parents having debts, arguing over money, racking up credit cards, and so on. Debt has always been a normal part of my life. The whole purpose of getting a college degree and finding a job was so you can pay your debts. While I am thankful now that I have managed to make it to 30 without mountains and mountains of debt, I know life would still have been somewhat different had I not had any in the first place.
I got paid this past week and I was much overdue for a mani/pedi. I had been putting it off because priority wise I had other things to pay for, but this day I was doing it. On the drive over I started thinking about how anxious I was about the weekend. We were getting the kids back this weekend, this generally means many extracurricular activities, and Carlos doesn’t get paid until next week, so I’m going to be responsible for everyone’s fun - or lack there of. I kept running numbers in my head, subtracting this bill and that bill, reassuring myself that it will work out - it will be fine. Then my mind just snapped! I’m sick of this! I’m sick of this feeling, I’m sick of this juggling, I’m sick of it! Here I am on my way to have a couple hours of destress and all I’m doing is stressing. As soon as I hopped into the pedi chair I started looking through my phone. I’ve had a couple people I’ve ran into on the job who would always mention Dave Ramsey. I’ve heard of him but never looked into anything before. I’ve always thought that my money issues would be hard to fix, take years to do and that in some ways I will probably always be stressed out and struggling because that’s what adulting is right!? But that day would be a perfect day as I stumbled onto Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover.
I downloaded the book onto my Kindle app on my phone and started reading - a $16 investment into my financial future - why not! It was like the answers to all my money issues were just dropped right into my lap. The steps were easy, practical, and made so much sense. Dave shoots it to you straight and you either take it or live in financial denial. This book instantly changed my mind and I was so excited! I rushed home and started sharing with Carlos everything I had read. We sat down and went over our bank accounts for the last 3 months to see where all of our money had been going and how we could budget better. We were shocked at the amount of money we had been throwing away months at a time - I’m talking hundreds of dollars! That night we sat down, made a budget for the month and executed it. We mapped out all our debts, which is a little over $75,000 not including the mortgage. After going over the steps and mapping out our timeline, we realized we could pay this whole $75,000 off in a year or less.
This was where the revelation hit - you mean to tell me that in a years time we could be looking at just a mortgage. I can’t even begin to tell you how stupid I felt. This whole time thinking that we were so far gone, that it would take years to ever be in a financially stable or comfortable position. We’ve been remodeling the house and have future plans to buy land and build a cabin in Maine - #dreaming. But the reason I am sharing this now is the feeling I have had since Carlos and I started this - indescribable peace. This past week we made a grocery run to Aldi's (best place ever! - more on that later) and we spent less than we would have at Walmart and paid cash. We took the boys to a local farm to feed the animals and spent $12 on 18 holes of mini golf. We’ve been eating at home, very well I might add, and we haven’t spent a single dime on fast food, shopping, or some outrageous outing. But again, the peace I have felt has been mind awakening.
I have felt so relaxed mentally and physically, I’ve even found the motivation to start running and walking again. I feel so free on the inside simply because I’m not worried about the money. I’m not thinking about dinner and who’s buying, I’m not mulling over whether we should go to the science center in Boston or put the kids in the sprinkler outside. It’s actually quite boring not having to worry about anything! :-) That says a lot to me about how effective financial stability really is in someone’s life - in my life!
I’ll be sharing updates on how we’re doing every few months and the overall success it’s been. As of now we are using an envelope cash system for our budget. We have an envelope for groceries, gas, spending money for me and Carlos, eating out/extras, and we’ve delegated assigned amounts to our savings each paycheck. The first step from Dave Ramsey’s book is to have $1,000 for emergencies in the bank. Carlos and I felt it was important that we both have our own emergency money since we both have vehicles and expenses so we are saving up for a total of $2,000. From there, we will begin paying off our debts starting with the smallest bill - I can’t wait!
This week has been so wonderful, I don’t know where all the extra time I seem to have has come from and everyday has been so relaxing and focused on family - all due to one decision.